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Doug Manchester and John Lynch haven't even closed on their purchase of the North County Times and yet a number of writers are saying their goodbyes over concerns that the integrity of the paper will suffer from the new ownership.

Despite having written more than 650 pieces over 14 years for the North County Times, longtime radio columnist Randy Dotinga bid farewell to readers in a September 27 column.

"I don't agree with Manchester-style puff-piece journalism," wrote Dotinga, who also writes for Voice of San Diego and Christian Science Monitor.

"Businesses don't need positive coverage. They need accurate coverage. Along those lines, I'd like to continue providing accurate coverage of the U-T for Voice of San Diego."

Dotinga doubts that he would have made the cut anyway, considering how his last exchange with U-T's CEO went for a story on the U-T's illegal auto museum.

"I certainly wouldn't have lasted long at the U-T-owned North County Times. After all, Lynch told me to 'get a life' just a few weeks ago. I like being able to still say "'he's not the boss of me.'"

But Dotinga isn't the only North County Times scribe saying their goodbye.

Editorial writer Richard Riehl, writer of the "The Riehl World" column, has also written the paper off. In his last column, which was later rejected by editor Kent Davy, Riehl ripped into Manchester for carrying "front page editorials advancing his conservative political agenda."

"After being able to rant on this page for nine years, often at odds with editorial board positions, my homework assignments for the NCT end with this, my last column. I made that decision after learning the newspaper had been sold. Not that the new owners would have welcomed my prickly presence on their opinion pages.

In a KPBS interview on September 11 Doug Manchester said he hadn’t yet decided on the “brand” of the North County Times. But he left little doubt it will be a virtual clone of UT San Diego, given his primary goal to “salute what’s right and good about San Diego,” with a special pro-military, pro-business, and pro-Padres and Chargers focus.

"I’ll be rooting from the sidelines for the survival of NCT’s journalistic integrity, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Riehl later posted the column on news blog, "Carlsbadistan" as well as Davy's response.

"Richard: I am not willing to let you tee off on Manchester this way," wrote Davy. "There are people here who will have to work for him even if you don’t.”

The exact number of reporters and staffers leaving their posts, as reported by Don Bauder in an earlier article, won't be known until after the transition is complete.

Here are a few related stories on Lynch and the U-T:

-- http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs... -- http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Comments
1

While I've lived in No County for a very long time, my contact with the NCT and its predecessors was sporadic. I never had a high opinion of the paper. When most papers were still fairly fat with content, the NCT seemed mighty thin. But I did notice, on occasion, that at least a couple of their columnists were hard core left-wingers. Perhaps they are the ones leaving before the Lynch/Manchester regime can fire them.

I do lament the passing of any news medium. There were a host of papers in the North County twenty to thirty years ago, and most of them are gone, absorbed, or merged. The Vista Press went through a bunch of changes after its local owner sold out to a newspaper chain. Then when the chain bailed out, it struggled along with some of the weakest imaginable news reporting and weakest delivery I'd ever experienced. It folded in the 90's. There were many more that actually tried to report news. Now in the area we have a couple free-distribution weeklies that make no pretense of being NEWSpapers. The are wrappers for advertisements, and nothing more. Every time we lose a paper or a radio news department, or a TV news department, we lose competition and a differing outlook on the local scene. It is only unfortunate that the NCT had already ceded its role as THE source for local news. As it is, Stacy Brandt actually attends school board meetings, and even sees them through to their adjournments in the wee hours. But he looks like the exception, not the NCT rule.

While I won't miss the NCT, I will miss the fact that nobody but local TV and the Manchester cabal will make any attempt to report news. OH, and the Reader, of course.

Sept. 30, 2012

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